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Cambrai homily

  • Old Irish
  • prose
  • Irish religious texts
Short prose homily in Old Irish and Latin, which has been dated as early as the 7th or the first half of the 8th century and on that account, has some claim to being the earliest specimen of Old Irish in continuous prose. The text has been frequently cited for its linguistic features and for its account of three forms of martyrdom categorised according to colour: white (bán), blue/green (glas) and red (derc).
First words (prose)
  • In nomine Dei summi
  • Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 679 [s. viii2]
    ff. 37rb–38rb
    This manuscript was written for Alberic, bishop of Cambrai and Arras (763-790), in the second half of the 8th century and contains an incomplete copy of the Collectio canonum Hibernensis. The homily is found between two chapters of the Collectio concerning bribery and inappropriate gifts (§§ 21.24 and 21.25). The scribe appears to have known no Irish and as the homily is incomplete, it may have been copied from a stray leaf inserted into the exemplar (see e.g. Stancliffe).
  • Old Irish
  • Secondary language(s): Latin language
prose (primary)


Irish religious textsIrish religious texts


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Thurneysen, Rudolf, Old Irish reader: with a supplement to A grammar of Old Irish, tr. D. A. Binchy, and Osborn Bergin, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1949.
[dipl. ed.] [crit. ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley, and John Strachan [eds.], Thesaurus palaeohibernicus: a collection of Old-Irish glosses, scholia, prose, and verse, 3 vols, vol. 2: Non-Biblical glosses and scholia; Old-Irish prose; names of persons and places; inscriptions; verse; indexes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1903.  
comments: Reprinted by DIAS in 1987, together with Stokes' supplementary volume.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link> Wikisource: <link>
244 (l. 16)–247 (l. 26) Parallel manuscript readings along with a restored text edition (textus restitutus). The first 15 and final 3 lines belong to the Collectio rather than the homily.
[corr.] Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, “A reading in the Cambrai homily”, Celtica 21 (1990): 417.

External links

Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
November 2017, last updated: July 2021